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Primary election provides 'jewels'



Published: Sun, May 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)




UWhat are "barking goats?"

UIf you were a member of the "Ohio Naternal Guard," would you have to parade in the buff at night?

UWhat does an "anecdote" have to do with chemical warfare?

UAnd, why has the word "inhabitant" suddenly cast a huge shadow over the November general election race for the 17th District Congressional seat?

Those are some of the questions prompted by comments from candidates -- and in one case an astute political observer -- during the primary election campaign. On Tuesday, voters will go to the polls to decide on the Democratic and Republican nominees for national, state and local offices and to express their opinions about a slew of tax and other issues.

But, in the midst of all the boilerplate political rhetoric, there were a few jewels.

Think back to February, when Warren Atty. Maridee Costanzo began circulating nominating petitions and told reporters she was seriously considering running for the 17th District Congressional seat. Asked why a political novice would undertake such a seemingly insurmountable challenge, Costanzo quipped that other candidates in the Democratic primary, most notably state Sen. Tim Ryan of Warren and state Rep. Anthony Latell of Girard, and Congressman-turned-convicted felon James A. Traficant Jr. were "barking goats" and "career politicians."

Perhaps after Tuesday's primary, the acerbic lawyer, who has displayed her disdain for Ryan by referring to him as "Timmy," will provide Mahoning Valley residents with a biological explanation on the origins of the "barking goat." Is it only found on the campaign trail in the Valley?

Then there's Joe Louis Teague of Youngstown, another candidate for the Democratic nomination for 17th District congressman, who turned the spotlight on his service in the guard when outlining his reasons for seeking the office.

"I was a sergeant in the Ohio Naternal Guard. I want to meet the people that live in Mahoning, Portage, Summit and Trumbull county," Teague wrote. "From 1990 ... more than 400 people been [murdered] in Youngstown, Ohio. Why. Drugs."

And how about Ryan, who didn't have a full-time job until he began his four-year term in the Ohio Senate in January 2001, obviously forgetting the first lesson of political campaigns, "Don't talk about things you know nothing about."

Flimsy resume

In trying to prove that his flimsy resume should not be mistaken for a lack of knowledge on a wide of range of topics, the state senator not too long ago delved into a discussion on the use of chemical weapons by terrorists bent on harming the United States. He explained that the universities in the 17th District could be mobilized to undertake a major research and development effort to find an "anecdote" to chemical warfare.

Webster's NewWorld Dictionary gives this definition for the word anecdote: "1. originally, little-known, entertaining facts of history or biography 2. a short, entertaining account of some happening, usually personal or biographical."

Well, Ryan's laughable attempt to justify a $50,000 loan for his campaign would meet the definition of an anecdote if he could somehow prove that the whole controversy is the result of his being poisoned by chemicals. Was there something in the water he drank that caused him to have a lapse in judgment, which resulted in the $50,000 loan winding up in his congressional campaign account?

Sarcasm aside, Ryan was actually proposing that the universities join forces in developing antidotes to counteract the deadly poisons that would be spread by the chemical weapons.

As for the word inhabitant, it is contained in Article 1, Section 2 [2] of the Constitution, which, according to Don L. Hanni Jr., once a leading criminal defense lawyer now in the twilight of his career and the former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, could impact Congressman Traficant's candidacy.

Here's Hanni's take: If Traficant, who has said he intends to file petitions Monday to run as an independent despite being found guilty of 10 federal criminal charges, is sentenced in June and is assigned to a federal penitentiary outside Ohio, he would not be permitted to hold congressional office if he won the race.

Why? Because of what the Constitution says about the House of Representatives: "No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."




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